Afghan massacre US soldier 'reluctant to serve'

 

The US soldier accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians saw his friend's leg blown off the day before the rampage, his lawyer said today.

John Browne also described his client as "mild-mannered" and said he had been surprised and reluctant to leave for Afghanistan on his fourth deployment.

Mr Browne, 65, said that according to his client's family, he was standing next to another US soldier when the serviceman was horribly injured.

"We have been informed that at this small base that he was at, somebody was gravely injured the day before the alleged incident - gravely injured, and that affected all of the soldiers," he said.

Mr Browne offered no other details of the incident and it was no clear whether it prompted the horrific middle-of-the-night attack on Sunday. The soldier had been injured twice during his three previous deployments to Iraq and he was loath to go to Afghanistan to begin with, the lawyer said.

Mr Browne declined to name the soldier's name amid concerns for his family, under protection on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma. He said the 38-year-old soldier had two children, aged three and four.

The soldier, originally from the Midwest, deployed last December with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, and on February 1 was attached to a "village stability operation". Mr Browne described him as highly decorated and said he had once been nominated for a Bronze Star.

During tours in Iraq, the soldier suffered a concussive head injury in a car accident caused by a roadside bomb, Mr Browne said, and he suffered a battle-related injury that resulted in surgery to remove part of his foot.

He was screened by health officials after the head injury before he redeployed, Mr Browne said. He did not know if his client had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but said it could be an issue at trial if experts believe it was relevant.

He and the rest of his brigade had initially been told they would not have to go to Afghanistan, Mr Browne said.

Mr Browne and his co-counsel, Emma Scanlan, said they had met the soldier's wife and other family members, and Mr Browne said he spoke briefly by phone with the soldier, whom he described as stunned and distant.

Mr Browne said of the family: "They were totally shocked. He's never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He's in general very mild-mannered."

The lawyer said he knew little of the facts of the shooting, but disputed reports that a combination of alcohol, stress and domestic issues caused the soldier to snap. He said the family was unaware of any drinking problem and described the couple's marriage as "fabulous".

The soldier is suspected of going on a shooting rampage in villages near his base, killing nine children and seven other civilians and then burning some of their bodies. The shooting, which followed a controversial Koran-burning incident involving US soldiers, has outraged Afghan officials.

The suspect was flown out of Afghanistan on Wednesday evening to what officials describe as a pre-trial confinement facility in Kuwait.

The soldier asked to be represented by Mr Browne when he was taken into custody, the lawyer said.

He said the soldier had no prior events in his army dossier indicating misbehaviour.

Mr Browne, who once defended serial killer Ted Bundy and recently represented Colton Harris-Moore, a youthful thief known as the "Barefoot Bandit", said he had only handled three or four military cases before, in a career spanning more than 40 years. The soldier will also have at least one military lawyer.

Mr Browne is known equally for his zeal in representing his clients and his flair before television cameras.

In addition to being a lawyer for Bundy, he helped Benjamin Ng avoid the death penalty following his conviction in Washington state's worst mass killing, the massacre of 13 people at a Seattle restaurant.

In one of his greatest legal victories, he ensured that a man who fled to Brazil after starting a blaze that killed four firefighters would not face murder charges upon his return because the extraditing country - Brazil - did not have a felony murder statute equivalent to Washington's.

Mr Browne recently represented Harris-Moore, who gained international attention for stealing planes, boats and cars during a two-year run from the law.

He helped Harris-Moore reach state and federal plea deals, then persuaded a state judge to give him the low end of the sentencing range - seven years in prison.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam